*EDIT – a reader pointed out that a lot of mental illness stems from a trauma. While this is quite often the case I have also met many people who have not suffered any trauma yet have still been diagnosed and medicated for a mental illness. These are the such cases I am referencing for this blog post.*
Earlier this week I was reading an article about a professor claiming that antipsychotic drugs are basically useless and killing over 5 million people a year. This professor claims that Big Pharma funds fake trials to make them more favourable in the study outcome and that these drugs are essentially poison. He believes that the population would be better (or at least no different) off these drugs. He writes that antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs are grossly over prescribed and we could have more more long-lived populations without them.
It got me itching to write this blog post that is very close to home. It’s something I’m a little passionate about. You see, I kinda agree.
Apparently no one actually knows what causes mental illness. The most common answer is that it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain, requiring more chemicals in the form of medication to try to balance it out. These drugs claim to be effective yet mental illness rates are still rising. So why has no one stopped to wonder why this chemical imbalance is happening in the first place, and how else we can approach it? What about focusing on our gut health and nutrition? After a very long battle with mental illness myself I can honestly say that nutrition and lifestyle changes “cured” me. I was on every drug you can imagine, every combination, every type of therapy, in and out of hospitals for years, received every diagnosis out there and tried to take my own life. The withdrawal was long and horrible but once I came off the medications and supplemented with clinically formulated high quality micronutrients, my life changed. In short, the drugs I was taking were mimicking and enhancing the very symptoms and conditions they were supposed to be treating.
So, nutrition could be the answer? I personally think so (along with counselling). Vitamins, minerals, amino acids – these are the crucial components of a healthy functioning brain. There’s just over 7 billion people on this planet. 2 billion of them are overweight or obese and thats only adults aged over 18. There’s also 42 million kids UNDER 5 years of age that are overweight or obese. Obesity isn’t the only problem though but those who are overweight/obese are usually the most unhealthy population and being overweight leads to further diseases and problems. We need to also look at GMO, sugar, dairy, soy, meat, wheat, vaccines, chemicals and other lifestyle factors like stress and the work/life balance. There’s a plethora of studies out there about the damages things like sugar and GMO do to us. Have you ever read Wheat Belly? Or seen That Sugar Film? There’s countless documentaries to get you started and also plenty of scientific research you can delve into!
I’ve read many articles, studies, trials, books and blogs from people who are trying to raise awareness of the power of nutrition for mental wellness. There’s even retreats in Byron Bay for those who have been through the medication-nutrition cycle. There are also companies out there fighting this battle. One such company is True Hope in Canada. They sell clinically formulated tablets and powders that supplement your brain with levels higher than required to function at your best. I used their products for a short time when I was coming off my medication and then eventually came off all True Hope products, despite their advice not to. I’m now 7 years drug free (should I take a bow?!).
In 2006 Canada Health tried to take True Hope down in court to stop them selling their products but True Hope won! Of course they’re going to get taken to court – how will Big Pharma make money if these natural remedies are coming to light? There’s more and more studies and research being done on companies like True Hope, finding that it’s all true, it’s legit, it’s ACTUALLY WORKING BETTER THAN THE MEDICATIONS. They are currently involved in a double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial being done on children with ADHD in New Zealand.
This is great news for the younger generations – In 2013 over 8 million children were on psychiatric drugs (that’s just in the USA). The majority of those (almost 4.5 million) were for ADHD symptoms. Gluten sensitivity, sugar overload, GMO foods (this includes wheat!) and vaccines have all been questioned, studies or linked to ADHD in children. The first step in treating a child with ADHD should not be medication. Eliminate foods, conduct sensitivity test, and work on the gut health. Consult with naturopaths, herbalist, kinesiologists and whoever else you feel can help. If all that fails, at least you’ll know you tried a safer, gentler and more natural approach.
We need to focus on our family’s health at home. As a mother, and having gone through what I went through, I’m ever so conscious of how we raise our children and what examples we are setting. Setting up healthy foundations from day 1 in Olivia’s life was a priority for us. Educating her about food and wellness will be forever ongoing. We try to include her in meal prep, shopping, growing food, and encourage her to listen to her body and instincts. At 3 years old it’s hard for her to understand and we can’t bombard her with nutrition information and expect her to get it but education starts now. When she goes to school every day in a few years time I want her to be armed with knowledge and confidence. I want her to be able to go to a friend’s birthday party and know she can have a cupcake if she wants but understand what’s in it and how it’s going to make her feel. I want her to feel confident to say “no thanks” if she doesn’t want that green cordial (despite all her friends drinking it). I also want her to know if she chooses to eat that birthday cupcake thats perfectly okay too. Many people think we are unrealistic about her food and nutrition but sadly I think the majority of society is just too complacent. I wish our way of living were the norm or at least not viewed as “difficult”. But we aren’t unreasonable – Olivia has sugar every now and then. The yoghurt we eat contains added sugar. That soy babychino last week had a marshmallow in it. Her wrap has wheat in it and yes those hot chips we shared at the riverside were deep fried. And it’s okay because we don’t do those things all the time. It’s about balance and awareness. Olivia knows a lollipop has sugar in it and might make her feel tired or cranky if she eats it. But she’s also 3 and 3 year olds don’t care for reasoning all the time ;)
We look after her gut with probiotics, kombucha and superfoods. We try to reduce or avoid sugar, wheat and dairy but we still enjoy the yoghurt and some cheese. She’s never had cows milk, doesn’t know what McDonalds is, has only ever drunk water, almond milk, herbal teas and kombucha. No cordial, juices, soft drink etc.
This isn’t about gloating how great my kid is. My point is it starts with YOU the parent. It’s about education. There have been countless times where I’ve just wanted to grab her a happy meal and call it a night. It’s hard freaking work! But it’s totally possible to raise healthy, aware children and be the example for them. It’s possible to NOT join those statistics above. When you start looking into it more it starts to make very clear sense. I remember reading this one fact that completely opened my eyes. It sparked something inside me, it made something just click. So I’m going to leave it with you too, in hopes it ignites something –
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating and influencing your moods that lead to depression. 90% of serotonin is made IN YOUR GUT.
Yep, your gut. And how we feed our gut is by the food we put in our mouths and the tablets we put in our mouths can cause damage to our gut. (And it’s not just serotonin that’s important down there – so much goes on in your gut, so much of your body relies on healthy gut flora to perform at it’s best.)
Do you think there’s a link between nutrition and mental illness?
Do you think psychotic drugs are overprescribed?
Next post I’ll be looking at ways to improve your gut health.
Please note I am not a doctor and this post is not to offer advice.